To the casual observer on a trip through the countryside, the idea that farming inherently degrades the environment may seem counter-intuitive. After all, we escape to the rural parts of the country in order to “return to nature” and experience a gentler and a more environmentally wholesome way of life, particularly when compared to that which we experience in urban/industrial settings – we go to the country to get away from the smokestacks, smog, traffic and pollution.But beneath the verdant appearance of our agricultural landscapes, the same system features that manifest in the “ills” we associate with urban/industrial settings are very much present and at work.
WWF-SA is launching a sustainability initiative tailored to the South African fruit sector, and has engaged Blue North Sustainability (Pty) Ltd to assist in its development and implementation. The Sustainable Fruit Initiative (SFI) is focussed on supporting the achievement of environmentally sustainable farming in the fruit industry, and will ultimately become the environmental “pillar” of SIZA (Sustainable Fruit Initiative South Africa, which is socially focused).
Visiting the UK and meeting with different people across UK agri supply-chains is always accompanied by discussions around the subject of sustainability – certain concepts and assumptions are affirmed, others challenged, and new perspectives and priorities are brought to the fore. At a minimum, the rapidly evolving and shifting nature of this field is confirmed. These visits are obviously extremely valuable to the shaping of our thinking at Blue North, and below I have shared some thoughts and insights from my latest trip:
There is always a line in the sand – that point in time when things change, or a new direction is taken. Much of the work we do at Blue North is related to assisting leading agri-businesses to improve their supply chain efficiencies: making outputs exceed inputs, and reducing waste and environmental impact where possible.
It is exciting to see the increasing use of renewable energy in the South Africa fruit sector. With the recent year-on-year increases in the cost of electricity, and further above-inflation increases expected, combined with the massive reduction in the cost of renewable energy solutions, we have now reached the crossover point where renewable energy solutions are making financial sense.
Blue North is a South Africa based sustainability consultancy working across the agricultural supply chain, driving the concept of strong sustainability.
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These thoughts on the development and implementation of a sustainability strategy in an agricultural supply-chain have been developed in the course of the work Blue North does in the sustainability field.